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World War II Navy vet from Colorado receives long-overdue medals

Four LSTs, (right to left) USS LST-178, USS LST-74, unidentified, and USS LST-656 load out at Bagnoli, Italy, 8 Aug. 8, 1944, for the invasion of southern France. Charles Kenneth Farley, 90, was a sailor aboard LST-74 during World War II. Farley received medals he earned during the war, but never received during a ceremony held in Denver.

U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES

By TOM MCGHEE | The Denver Post | Published: November 15, 2017

(Tribune News Service) — Seventy-two years after Charles Kenneth Farley bade farewell to LST-74, the landing ship on which he served during World War II, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday presented him with three medals he had earned but never received.

The 90-year-old Arvada, Colo., resident worked in the engine room of the ship, which hauled tanks and other weaponry during the war. Much of his time was spent in a cramped, noisy, hot engine room. But when the ship engaged in battle, he manned a deck gun.

Farley’s memory isn’t as sharp as it once was, but he remembers the friends he made in the Navy, some of whom didn’t return. And he remembers the ship he called home. “An LST is not a real nice place to work, (but) it was quite a place,” he said.

In his office at the state Capitol, Hickenlooper presented the veteran with a shadow box that included an American flag, other memorabilia and the medals — the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.

“On behalf of the state of Colorado, … I am officially empowered to say this to you: Thank you,” Hickenlooper said.

Four generations of Farley’s family were on hand to witness the presentation, including his four sons, three of whom, Terry, Dave and Jeff, served in the Marine Corps.

His fourth and oldest son, Steve, 63, said the family realized he deserved the commendations when they contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs to get information about benefits to which he is entitled.

Farley had believed he received all he was eligible for when he got a VA loan years ago. But the family found he qualified for a disability pension for hearing loss connected to his service and other things.

He also qualified for the three commendations. “That got my wheels going,” Steve said. “I said, ‘You know, what we ought to do is get the governor to say something.’ ”

He contacted the governor’s office, and Hickenlooper agreed.

Steve’s wife, Tammy, 60, included in the shadow box a flag that had covered her own father’s casket; a picture of Farley as a young sailor, and a small service flag decorated with a star that hung in the window of his parents’ home when he was in the Navy.

“It’s quite beautiful, even this face here,” Farley said, touching the picture of himself in uniform.

Tammy’s father, Donald C. Hofferber, who died in 2008, was also a Navy veteran. A picture of him as a young man also was displayed during Tuesday’s recognition.

Michael S. Farley, 16, Farley’s great-grandson, was among those who attended the presentation. “He is an amazing guy,” he said of Farley.

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